The UK’s Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP) published a progress update report today giving an indicative timetable for the development of the “ecosystem” intended to enable dashboards – online portals displaying an individual’s pension information in one place. 

Schemes and providers will not be legally compelled to connect to the system before 2023, the update makes clear.

According to the report, the programme team is to be scaled up over the next six months to make sure the dashboard is delivered successfully, with work focusing on the procurement of a supplier to design the digital architecture, the development of an onboarding strategy for pension providers, and other areas.

Commenting on the report, Nigel Peaple, director of policy and research at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA), said: “Today’s publications by the Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP) provide a welcome update about the significant progress the PDP has made over the last six months.”

The association and its members had been calling for a clear timeline, giving them the certainty needed to prepare for onboarding, he said.

Staged onboarding from 2023

The PDP outlined a five-stage timetable in the report, with programme setup and planning taking place from this year – including recruiting the team, agreeing the architecture, and seeking approval for supplier procurement – and movement into the “develop and test phase” taking place from next year.

The team, which was set up by the Money and Pensions Service and is led by Chris Curry, said voluntary onboarding of pension schemes and providers would start from 2022, with ongoing testing, and then staged onboarding taking place from 2023.

At that point schemes would begin to be compelled to join the system by law allowing the dashboard to become widely available, according to the report.

The timeline’s final marker, “transition to business as usual,” assumes widespread coverage and use, with the service running steadily, the report shows, though it says the timing of this phase is yet to be determined.

“The fact that mandatory onboarding will not begin until 2023 is a recognition of the significant challenges schemes and providers will face in preparing their data,” said Peaple. The PLSA has previously said the onboarding process should not be rushed.

Defined contribution (DC) master trust provider Smart Pension said it wanted to see development of the service accelerated.

Darren Philp, the firm’s director of policy, said: “While we understand the complexities involved in delivering dashboards, we would like to see the programme go quicker and believe that the saver shouldn’t have to wait until 2023 to have the beginnings of the dashboard.”

Industry group the Investing and Saving Alliance (TISA), meanwhile, said the sector should not put off taking other action.

Renny Biggins, head of retirement at TISA, said: “While the dashboard has great potential moving forward, we shouldn’t be pinning all our hopes on it and should be considering other solutions to improve engagement now.”

The introduction of a simpler annual statement was a good example of another solution, he said, adding that “small bitesize communications with consistency in our language” was another potential improvement.